Six Simple Strategic Steps to SME Success; Are You ready?


Are you running a business and do you want to know how you are going to be able to grow your business in these tough economic times?

Are YOU ready to take Six Simple Strategic Steps to achieve this objective?

I have already introduced my Framework in  a previous post entitled – “Six Simple Strategic Steps to SME Success – An Introduction” – which you can find here.

In this post, I want to share with you some further detail about the first three Steps – Business Appreciation, Optimisation and Engagement.   In the next post, I will tackle the second three steps which are Capital Raising, Acquisitions and Exit.

Taking the First Step – Business Appreciation

Remember at the end of each Step you always have the option to do nothing further, to continue to own your business or to sell it.  The choice and the flexibility are entirely yours.

This is not a prescriptive process this is all about putting you back into the driving seat of your business.

The First Step is entitled Business Appreciation. This means taking stock of what you have but not in a haphazard way, in a very structured and systematic way.

In the military, before setting off on a course of action, officers are taught formerly to “Appreciate their Situation” and the first heading is Enemy Forces.  We were also warned about “Situating our Appreciation” which means interpreting events with a closed mind to explain the mess we are in.

In order to move forward you need to create the platform on which your business will create your wealth.  This means really understanding where you are today and sorting out any immediate issues, some of which you may have been avoiding for some time.

Think about this like the MOT you have conducted on your car every year.  The mechanic goes over the whole of your car (for which read your business) with a carefully prepared and systematic check list and finds out what, if anything is wrong with it.  In order to pass your MOT, you have to put those things right.

Jeremy Harbour, the successful serial entrepreneur and turn around specialist, told me recently that the best time to sell your business is right NOW.  What he meant was that when presented with an opportunity to sell you must be ready to take it as you cannot be sure that another offer will come along later that will improve on it.

Whether you sell or not is up to you but your business must be in a condition that a seller, if he reviewed your business would want to buy it and not be put off by problem issues and skeletons in cupboards.  In fact, if you are well organised and prepared, he will probably want to buy it even more.

The First Step Business Appreciation therefore takes you through a systematic process to make sure that you are fully cognisant of your business, its scope and activities and its potential.  You will also be taken through a thorough audit of the business to make sure that you do not have any skeletons lying deep in that cupboard!

The Second Strategic Step – Optimisation

Once you have conducted a thorough appraisal and put your house in order, the Second Strategic Step teaches you how to optimise your business and prepare for the future.

Lets maintain the Car analogy.  Now your car has passed its MOT, a good service and tune up will make it run better, be safer to drive and in the long term, last longer and be more valuable when you sell it with a full dealer service history.  Your business is no different.

I will teach you how to conduct such a service and tune up of your business to make it more efficient, more profitable and to put it on the road to growth.

As part of this I will teach you the Six Key Metrics which I believe you need to understand and use in order to manage your business on a day to day basis and which will help you to be more successful.  Remember if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.

The Optimisation Step is focused on ensuring that you optimise the way you run your business and ensure that its financing and future are organised  and aligned with your strategic objectives.  This phase involves preparing a detailed cash flow forecast.

The Third Strategic Step – Engagement

In Step Three, Engagement, your business is now ready to grow.

This means increasing sales, increasing gross profit, reducing fixed and variable expenses, improving the return on your investment in your staff, meeting all your tax obligations on time and lowering your cost of capital.

If you do all this, your company will grow, will become more profitable and ultimately create real wealth for its owners.

Which of course is all very easy to say and much more difficult to do.   And it is, if you do not know how or where to start.

If you have completed Steps One and Two you will be on the Start Line to growth.  A bit like an Athlete in the 100 metres sprint.  You will have gone down on your marks and be waiting for the starting gun.

Step Three teaches you how to run and win the race.  If you were a decathlete having to master 10 events, technique and method would be critical, more important than strength, stamina or fitness.

In Step Three I will show you how to approach your sales and marketing in a more systematic way, show you how to master the techniques of inbound marketing and take you through the key steps to getting more out of your customers and give away less to your suppliers.

In the next post, I will discuss the second Three Simple Strategic Steps in more detail.  If you liked this, please subscribe to my email list to continue to get great advice on Business Strategy.